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In 2013 alone, The Weather Company delivered more 150,000 weather alerts to two-thirds of U.S. adults, and it now is targeting its reach to informing people of emergencies.
The Weather Company, best known for The Weather Channel and weather.com, is getting into the emergency alert business, a natural fit given the company’s focus and market saturation.
Using its large-scale distribution and weather expertise, the company is building, in partnership with local officials, a localized alerting platform for state, local and private authorities to manage and distribute emergency alerts via The Weather Channel properties and existing local distribution points.
“The U.S. offers its citizens some of the best emergency alerting capabilities in the world,” Bryson Koehler, executive vice president and CIO of The Weather Company told govtech.
Koehler noted that the National Weather Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) ensure national coverage through alerts and the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) system. “But most communities currently do not have a local alerting system to integrate with IPAWS. As a result, many alerts cover large areas or do not provide the types of local details that can best serve the public.”
The new system, which will be piloted by the end of 2014, will allow local emergency managers to determine if and how a weather event, such as a tornado, or a non-weather situation like a road closure, will impact citizens, and provide localized, actionable information before, during and after an event with relevant messages geo-targeted to specific areas.
Currently there is no universal interface to create alerts. Local areas must buy or build one, leading to low adoption by officials and low public awareness. According to the company, the new platform will integrate across platforms, allowing managers to publish to Web and mobile, as well as Facebook, Twitter and any local sites. The simpler format saves time, increases efficiency and reduces costs.